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2009 Kawasaki KX250F: MD First Ride

Almost every category of motorcycles features intense competition among the various manufacturers these days. None more so than the 250cc motocrosss segment. Kawasaki recently asked us to test their new KX250F … the bike ridden to many championships recently by Ryan Villopoto. We sent big vet racer Russ Somers to do the testing here in Southern California.

The venue was a private track with horsepower-robbing sand and Supercross-style jumps that would present a challenge for any 250cc bike. Russ was in a unique position to evaluate the new model, because he had just participated in a comparison test of several motocross machines, and had chosen the 2008 KX250F as his favorite.

For several years now, the Kawasaki KX250F has had a healthy peak horsepower. With all the engine’s changes described in our preview article, Kawasaki successfully smoothed out the power delivery. The bike still makes plenty of peak horsepower, but it comes on smoother and is spread a bit broader. Overall, Russ felt the new motor made the bike very easy to ride, even for a 250.

The rest of the bike received plenty of attention this year, as well. Our preview article discusses all the chassis and suspension changes, including the new lighter, slimmer frame, as well as the change in the swingarm pivot location. There is a new rear shock with a larger piston, and the forks have a coating for reduced stiction. Steering offset has been reduced 1 mm.

Russ was also happy with the chassis changes. The new bike feels lighter and turns better without feeling nervous or unstable.

Russ is a big guy, and he really pounded suspension during our tests. He recalls one flat landing where he expected a harsh feel from the front, but the bike soaked it up surprisingly well. The new shock felt as if it allowed the bike to hook up better on corner exits. Overall, the suspension changes are an improvement over the already excellent suspension on last year’s bike.

The new KX250F started easy, hot or cold. The sound coming from the new pipe was different, and there was some speculation that Pro Circuit was closely involved in designing this aspect of the new stock machine.

Light weight is always a good thing, and Kawasaki claims the new KX250F has lost 3 pounds. That claim is very believable, given the changes made to the frame and swingarm alone. With excellent handling and an improved power delivery, we think the 2009 KX250F should help Kawasaki carry on a winning tradition in motocross racing. At an U.S. MSRP of $6,499 ($6,649 for the Monster Energy edition), the 2009 model should be in dealers now. For additional details and specifications visit Kawasaki’s website.